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Convicted Bella Vista Child Killer Will Get New Trial After Court Denies Appeal

Mauricio Torres being led in for testimony during his 2016 trial.

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won’t reconsider its decision to grant a new trial to an inmate who had been convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the killing of his 6-year-old son.

The justices on Thursday (May 30) denied Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s petition to reconsider their 4-3 decision last month in the 2016 conviction of Mauricio Alejandro Torres.

Investigators say Torres used a stick to sexually assault his son while the family was camping in Missouri. The boy died at an Arkansas hospital a day after the assault.

The justices denied the request along the same 4-3 split. They ruled last month that Arkansas authorities couldn’t use rape to substantiate the capital murder conviction because the assault occurred in Missouri.

Rutledge argued that the court erred in its analysis of how the law applied to Torres’ case.

“Despite today’s (supreme court) decision, the young life of Isaiah Torres was brutally taken away from him and I will do everything in my power to give him the justice he deserves,” Rutledge said.

The Supreme Court said they were “unable to discern whether the jury convicted Torres” based on the legally insufficient rape or whether they convicted on an underlying felony of child abuse because the jury’s verdict forms didn’t specify which offense they used to convict.

As a result, the court said, they had no choice but to overturn the verdict and order a new trial. The court said Torres should be remanded for a new trial.

Nathan Smith, Benton County prosecutor, said he appreciates the work by Rutledge and agrees with her that the court should have affirmed Torres’ conviction.

“(N)ow that the court has finalized its, ruling I am bound to respect it,” Smith said. “My focus now turns to a new trial and justice for Isaiah Torres.”

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